Feed Icon: Trademark, Agreement, Guidelines, what?
It’s been quiet on the Feed Icon front for the past few months. After releasing the download package and creating feedicons.com, the thing spread like wild fire! I was expecting the blogging community to jump on board without a doubt, but the widespread adoption has been incredible.
It’s been a solid couple of months since I received the draft and no word has been said on the matter. Then as I’m checking my feeds on Monday, I see that Opera has a new build out of beta 9. In the known issues section is “Old RSS Icon.” followed by…
Regarding the old RSS icon: Mozilla would like us (and other users of it) to sign an agreement on the use of the feeds icon. We fully respect their rights to the icon and will not use it as long as this isn’t sorted out.
Yikes! I guess someone has been enforcing those guidelines I received weeks ago. I quickly jumped to my mail client to dig up that email and checked out the URLs that were to house the guidelines. To my surprise, they were in the same state they were 2 months ago – mostly TBD. The emails immediately started to pour in. Thankfully, real life called and I found myself out finding a new school for my daughter to go to in September among other moving related errands, instead of addressing emails with questions that I can’t answer and worrying about the potential shit storm that could like ahead.
Wednesday morning rolled around and following another “Can you ask Mozilla if they made Microsoft sign the agreement” email, Frank Hecker dropped a line. He was quick to the point in stating that he and some others were working on a new draft which can be summed up in 1 paragraph and 3 points…
The feed icon is somewhat unusual; although it was originally created for use with Firefox, it’s not really part of the Firefox or Mozilla “brands”, and our goal with the icon is not to reserve it for our own use but rather to make it available for anyone to use in the context of web syndication services based on open formats.
– The feed icon as a “community mark”, Frank Hecker
- That a trademark license should not be required for use of the feed icon.
- That the Mozilla Foundation (possibly in conjunction with others) publish a set of non-legally-binding usage guidelines for the icon.
- That the Mozilla Foundation/Corporation, other software vendors, and others with commercial interests in the icon make public statements regarding their commitment to use the icon and comply with the guidelines.
Frank has since published his proposed usage guidelines along with some frequently asked questions. I hope this helps to clear the air and bring relief to those that seemed to immediately get up in arms over an issue that was, and still is very much in development.
And speaking of development – as of now, we are picking up where we left off with feedicons.com and moving forward as originally planned. Online colour picker and all! It’s funny how some will get all up in my face with the guidelines to point out what I am well aware of and fully agree with. I simply choose not to comply on a single point (well, maybe 2).
I don’t like orange; can I use the feed icon in a different color?
You’re free to ignore the proposed guidelines and use another color, but we strongly recommend that you not do so. We believe that the color of the icon is an important visual cue for people, and that changing the color would disrupt that cue and could confuse users. (Just as, for example, changing the standard colors used for road signs could confuse drivers.)
The fact of the matter is – people are going to change the colour. Period. Hell, even Safari and Opera are sporting blue RSS buttons in their address bars. I’m sure it took a new user of either browser a click or two to determine what it was. But I bet they figured it out. This isn’t the first time the colour of a universal symbol has been altered, and it won’t be the last. Rest assured, Joe Schmoe will be able to figure out what the funny green icon with radio waves accompanied by the word “subscribe” means if he’s seen it once before.
Please keep in mind, the guidelines quoted above are still merely proposed guidelines. Nothing is set in stone, yet.